Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Who was Alice Ramsey?

Don't worry. I hadn't heard of her either. Alice Ramsey was the first woman to drive an automobile coast to coast. In 1909, nine days after the “Ocean to Ocean” group set off on the race from New York to Seattle, Alice and her posse – two sisters in law, and a young friend -- left 1930 Broadway in New York City for San Francisco.

You may have heard of the great “Ocean to Ocean” race. Six cars competed -- all driven by men -- and two of the cars were Ford Model Ts. Four of the cars made it across the nation and the winner was a Model T! The car and its crew completed the journey in 23 days.

Unlike the “Ocean to Ocean” drive, Alice’s drive was not a race. To Alice, it proved that a woman was perfectly capable of driving from coast to coast without assistance from a man. For Maxwell-Briscoe, it was an ingenious publicity stunt. In 1909, the population of the United States was 80 million, yet only 155,000 Americans owned cars. Surprisingly, there were 290 automobile manufacturers. The manufacturers needed to convince the American public that cars were better than horses. What better way?

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